On 18 February, the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) plenary session took place in Brussels at the Committee of the Regions. ARLEM’s commitment is supported by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the European Investment Bank and the European Commission. Together with representatives of those bodies, the plenary gathered local and regional politicians. Peter Sondergaard, ALDA Senior Policy Officer, represented ALDA as observer.
The focus was put on regional cooperation and local democracy as keys to secure the transition process in the Mediterranean. Participants agreed that a pragmatic approach was necessary to launch concrete action in the perspective of the strengthening of the institutional capacity of local and regional actors.
ARLEM’s objectives for 2013 were approved by the plenary with the adoption of the report on the territorial dimension of the UfM, focusing on three priorities: consolidating decentralisation and regionalisation; acting to ensure that UfM’s priorities include a territorial dimension; and contributing to the development of a macro-regional strategy and cohesion policy in the Euromed area. All members expressed a clear interest in developing ARLEM’s objectives, and continued to highlight various further issues such as employment, human capital and labour mobility, notably in the context of the EU’s external relations policy.
The ARLEM plenary session confirmed that ALDA has a very relevant role to play in the Mediterranean area and ALDA will propose a closer cooperation with ARLEM in the future, especially with an aim to support the establishment of Local Democracy Agencies in the Mediterranean area at a later stage.